Eranthis is a plant genus that includes eight species of flowering plants. They are native to southern Europe and the eastern part of Asia, and usually found on forest floors. All species in this genus are perennial plants, which means that they can live for more than two years. One of the species most prominently planted in gardens is Eranthis hyemalis, primarily because of its bronze-tinted leaves and large flowers.
The plants in this genus grow from 3.9 to 5.9 inches (10 to 15 cm) in height and produce yellow or white flowers. They spread from 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm), with leaves that are green and glossy. The leaves are able to expand after the flowers have bloomed, measuring up to 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter, and then die down after two to three months of bloom. These plants grow well in alkaline soils, as well as in slightly acidic ground.
These species are among the first to bloom in the spring, sometimes showing flowers as early as January in places where the climate is mild. In areas where the winter is snowy, the flowers may start to bloom later in the month or around February. As the plant is tolerant of frost, it can bloom relatively soon after the winter and while covered in light snow without getting damaged. This makes Eranthis a popular ornamental plant to fill in a garden during the winter or early spring.
To propagate Eranthis, the tubers should be lifted when the leaves are beginning to die down. They should be separated into sections and replanted as soon as possible. The plants can propagate naturally when they are undisturbed due to their seeds falling to the ground and growing.
Before planting the tubers, they should be soaked in water overnight. To encourage optimum growth, the tubers should be planted 4 inches (about 10 cm) apart from each other, and around 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep in the ground. The genus is best planted in late summer or during the early part of fall. Gardeners may find the plants suitable for ground cover under deciduous shrubs or trees and in rock gardens.
One should be careful when handling these plants, because all parts of them are poisonous. Their poisonous characteristics, however, also make them easier to maintain. Animals such as deer and rabbits avoid the plants due to their bitter taste, minimizing the risk of them being damaged.